by the aVenue

THE CITY CONSOLIDATED two brush pick-up days this year. The new date wasn’t advertised in advance though, just the rationale. Planners, arborists, and public works deliberated on the best replacement. Before, the earlier collection was spring clean-up for Easter, followed by a second after back-to-school. Now there’s just one.

The impetus? Our city’s urban forest, predominantly, is a sprawling monoculture. From the corporate balcony, it’s Live Oak as far as the eye can see; and therefore vulnerable to Oak wilt, that crippling fungus contagious among weakened stands. Our dry climate’s harsh enough on trees in peak health, under brimming canopies, with moisture reserves protected by an uncompromised cladding of armored bark. Systemic city-wide trimming just before summer drought sets the entire woodland at risk.

Flyers were finally posted:
“Brush pick-up will be
the week following Thanksgiving
same as holiday routes.

Build your pile 
smaller than 8 cubic yards
within 10 feet of the curb.”
#OptOutside this year

On Monday, three trucks trawl the neighborhood:
two roll-off dumpers and a claw.
They’re getting closer, when
two meet at the side lot nose-to-nose.


Stabilizer feet depress the road
as a teetering bucket sweeps
from the robot arm:

Eleagnus, Bigtooth Maple, Red Bud,
Pink Skullcap, White Lightnin’, Turk’s Cap,
Indigo Spires, Butterfly Bush, Salvia Gregii,
Esperanza, Mexican Oregano, Rosemary,
Sabal Palm, Asiatic Jasmine, and Yaupon Holly with red berries

three scoops and it’s gone.

Trucks unload at the brush station by the airport:
scales, earth movers, and mountains of tangle,
Where microbes do the work of fire now,
consuming at 120 to 170°F.

If you haul your own, you can
coax the whole stack from your truck bed
in one grapple, like a thorny box-spring
when twined right.

The moonscape of steaming heaps
smells of fermented silage.

Laborers direct as mechanical gears shred,
offering mulch back to the city:
coarse for free, compost at 3¢ a lb
for verdant enterprise.

From the wayside one image prevails:

The groundman, standing offset with winnowing fork, conducts traffic before advancing to gather the remnant, pitching it over the rail. They say we can expect a green bin after the Yuletide.

“into the granary” – Matthew 3:12

Acoustic: Come
Artist: Jain, Zanaka (2015)

“What in our life is burnt in the fire of this?”
Isaac Rosenburg, August 1914 


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